Performers in this production learned clowning fundamentals, sign language, and in many cases they acted as interpreters for their stage counterparts. The commitment to inclusion for performers and audience members of all abilities is groundbreaking for Chicago, and inspiring to be a part of, even if it’s just to learn the symbol for ‘alone’ (an index finger held at chest level) or being asked by a woodland mutant to hold onto their signed letter ‘G’ as they distribute Red’s love letters.
A cohesive treatment plan would likely combine a variety of common elements beginning with detoxification, which gives patients a chance to isolate symptoms of the drug or alcohol addiction from the symptoms of mental illness. Inpatient rehabilitation, psychotherapy, medications, self-help, and support groups can also be vital parts of a recovery process that distinctly addresses both substance abuse and mental health.
The challenge for me, and many others with a dual diagnosis of addiction and mental illness, is that no program of recovery can treat mental illness. Recovery literature states that sometimes we need outside help—referring to medical experts. Difficulties arise when that literature is misinterpreted and those people see depression, anxiety, or any other mental illness as a feature of addiction that can be treated solely with a program of recovery. Contrary to that belief, medical illness cannot be treated with a spiritual solution. It is paramount that people who suffer with mental illness seek treatment from a trained medical professional.
Usually, I kept my face neutral and straight and did not talk at all. Sometimes, my oppressed feelings would burst out as tears, ranting, and self harm. I cried that I wanted to die rather than living. One family member would respond: “Then go out and kill yourself." At those moments, I felt I was unable to speak anymore, so I would go to my room or outside to cry and do things to relieve anxiety such as biting my fingers or tearing books. Throughout the years, I became accustomed to the violence around me.
An onlooker looks at a mountain, but the left half of it is gone. It’s not really gone—other folks looking from his location will say that there’s an entire, beautiful mountain there—but the onlooker will insist that he can only see the right half.
This onlooker has Hemispatial Neglect, a disorder characterized by lack of awareness of one side of space. It’s not the same as being blind; someone with Hemispatial Neglect can still have very good vision. It’s not even like you’re closing one eye. In that case, you’ll still be able to see pretty much the same thing as when both your eyes are opened, though the image is slightly shifted.
My writing is inspired by the comfort I feel from reading articles about living with mood disorders. That kind of catharsis is priceless, and the way that information resonates with me means the difference between giving up on life and sticking around to see if I can create a healthier way of being.
I scheduled a doctor's appointment for April 20th. On April 15th I had a stroke. When it happened, my dad was on his way home from the hospital. He had had cataract surgery. I was completely paralyzed on my right side.
I went to Riverside Hospital in Kankakee then transferred to Rush hospital in Chicago where I stayed for an additional two weeks. Eventually I went to a nursing home called Our Lady Of Victory where I was confined to a bed until I was strong enough to sit in a chair. I went to physical and occupational therapy in a wheelchair where I worked very hard. Over time I went from using a wheelchair, to a walker, then a support cane and ultimately a white cane.
People with disabilities, no matter whether they work, or what positions they hold in companies, often are great managers. Why? Because...we have to manage finding different ways of doing things when we’re unable to. Metaphorically, you can throw us into the deep end of the pool, and more likely than not, will be able to swim because we’ve always had to, since we’ve so rarely known anything other than deep water.
Within minutes I have eight hands simultaneously checking my back for rashes, sticking ports in my arm and checking my vitals. They ask me for consent in using a breathing tube (luckily, wasn't used), then in one quick action a nurse tells me to take a deep breath and an epi pen is jammed into my upper thigh. In an instant, an IV of steroids and Benadryl begin to rush into my veins and I feel like Frankenstein reborn.
Being a part of a community of others with disabilities has always been a huge benefit to me since there seems to be an instant empathy and understanding between us, since we either all have disabilities, or we are allies of those with disabilities. Our untold story, I believe, is huge and complex because it encompasses the history of the disability rights movement that so many people outside of it don’t know.